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I BECOME A SNAKE-CHARMING DERVISH
point, the more he emphasized the supremacy of Allah, until I realised that he either could not or would not grasp my question clearly; so I had perforce to drop the subject.
Putting together what I had learnt from snake-charmers of all kinds; paralleling the evidences of serpent-worship which I had seen openly practised in India, and which I knew had been openly practised in ancient Egypt; and studying my own changed reactions to the snake tribe since the memorable day of my initiation, I was finally forced to the conclusion that my conjecture was a correct one. The more I thought over the matter, the more was the number of evidences which I could cull together in my mind that this strange knowledge was but a relic of one of the Dark Continent's earliest religions.
For I had noticed a gradual but drastic change in my personal attitude towards the reptilian world. No longer did I regard all snakes with the formidable, irrepressible loathing I had formerly felt, the horror which springs up unbidden in every normal human heart. No longer did I perceive in all of them dreaded and implacable enemies of every other living thing. No longer did I fear each one as a creeping incarnation of treachery and deceit. Instead, I had slowly but increasingly come to feel a peculiar admiration for the sheen and sinuous beauty of their bodies and the graceful air of their upreared necks; a strange fascination for their undeniable weirdness and uncanny mystery; and a subtle sense of pity for them. This change was not something that I sought, but something that had grown imperceptibly and of its own accord.
It is a striking contrast that in all Christian countries the serpent is taken as a symbol of evil alone, or of the devil himself, whereas in almost all ancient civilizations and even among most of the few remaining primitive ones to-day, as in Central Africa, it was and is recognized as being divided into two species—the divine and the evil.
All over Africa, all over India, among the Druids and in most parts of Central America where the echoes of Atlantis have lingered, serpent worship has existed as a reality. The mile-long walls of the great Aztec temple ot Mexico were decorated with sculptured serpents.
The Dravidians, who were the aboriginal black-skinned people of India, and who have now mostly been driven to the south, regard the cobra—and especially die spectacle-hooded variety— as a divine creature and hesitate to kill it, although they will